Glorious NEW Garden-Inspired Scents from Santa Maria Novella

In our just-published (and rather gorgeous, though we do say so ourselves) Perfumer’s Garden issue of The Scented Letter magazine, the focus was flower-filled gardens. Because isn’t summer all about flowers? It is for every perfume-lover and perfumer that we know.

Coinciding with the opening of a new outdoor space at the Palace of Versailles (below), our themed issue talks to green-fingered perfumers, shares recommendations for scented plants for your garden and showcases a round-up of glorious modern florals, for the home and for the skin, that evoke gardens or greenhouses – a major trend in perfume and home fragrances, right now.

 

 

You can purchase a stunning print copy here (definitely one to keep on the coffee table!) but do also make sure you are signed up to have the free electronic version delivered to your inbox!

 

 

 

We are thrilled to see this garden vibe blossoming across new launches still hitting our desks (our noses aren’t always on the pulse-point of perfumery!) and although this exciting collection from Officina Profumo Farmaceutica di Santa Maria Novella was too late launching to include in our issue, we wanted to share it with you here, as it SO PERFECTLY fits the Perfumer’s Garden theme!

‘Each of our Eau de Parfums expresses a close harmony between the most precious perfumery ingredients. A deep expertise in crafting and combining olfactory notes, and the desire to write the new chapter of a unique heritage. Discover the intimate and powerful homage to the flower and symbol of Florence with L’Iris Eau de Parfum. Discover the most bizarre and fascinating flower and fruit varieties. Immerse yourself in a world of treasures and discoveries, that are expressed through the olfactory senses…’

With the brand celebrating over 800 years of heritage, research and tradition – Santa Maria Novella presents this new collection comprising four Eaux de Parfum – L’Iris, Bizzarria, Gelsomino, and Magnolia – which inspired the Florentine Maison to trace the roots of different flower and plant varieties to produce the beautiful collection.

 

 

 

‘“I Giardini Medicei” is a collection that epitomises the quintessential roots of Officina, starting from its very own, most intimate spirit. And for doing so, it chooses perfumery art as the means of its expression. The most direct of all art forms, that directly envelops the fortunate “visitor” of this splendid and audacious realm.’ Inspired by the stunning Medicean Villas, they beckon us forth to step into the garden and smell these…

 

 

L’Iris (£160.00, 50ml) – ‘The Officina’s very first Eau de Parfum which debuted in spring 2022 earns its place in the ‘I Giardini Medicei; collection. L’Iris Eau de Parfum will now be available in the exclusive double-bottom illustrated box of the collection. The iris flower connects many cultures, it has been a potent symbol of protection since ancient Greece. It carries many names, too: iris, lily, gaggiolo…’

 

 

Bizzaria (£160.00, 50ml) – ‘An original, unexpected Eau de Parfum that pairs the Hesperides traits with resounding notes of Cedarwood. Bizaaria is the most peculiar citrus tree of all: lemon, bitter orgaqn and etrog.’

 

 

Gelsomino (£160.00, 50ml) – ‘Strong notes of Jasmine, this is a floral, woody and spicy scent.’

 

 

 

Magnolia (£160.00, 50ml) – ‘Magnolia Eau de Parfum embraces all the characteristics of the tree that defied time into a powerful olfactory landscape. Notes of white rose and geranium, it confers a multi-layered depth with the heart of magnolia grandiflora paired with the absolutes of magnolia champaca…’.

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

John Bailey – A Fragrant Epitaph

It was with great sadness we learned that John Bailey, former President of The British Society of Perfumers and renowned artisan perfumer of The Perfumers Guild, died on Wednesday 22nd February 2023.

John was one of the kindest and most insightful men in the entire fragrance industry. He was generous with that extensive experience and vast knowledge, too, and could always be relied on to help us with research – often throwing in scented snippets of information that made us gasp. Jo Fairley, who co-founded The Perfume Society, and counted John as a dear friend, commented:

‘John was a life force within the industry, and his passion for perfumery was unrivalled. Those of us who knew and respected him will miss him – and his scented missives! – very much.’

The British Society of Perfumers statement read:

As one member of the society put it: ”John was the beating heart of the British Society of Perfumers”. He joined the society in 2009 and was president from 2012 to 2014. He was only the second President to take on two years at the helm after Robert Favre in 1963.

During his Presidency John was the driving force behind the writing and publication of the book celebrating the 50th Anniversary of the BSP. He remained active on Council and organised several recent events including the visit to the lavender farm in 2022.

John was the first to receive the title of Honorary Ambassador to the Society. He took on this role with gusto, giving new members a warm welcome and keeping in touch with friends of the Society. He had a passion for the history of perfumery especially in the UK and researched a number of brands. His career in perfumery included working for Stafford Allen, Naarden International and RC Treatt. This wealth of experience lead him to found his independent consultancy; The Perfume Guild in 1981.

With sorrow for his passing and joy for a life well lived.💔’

 

 

You can read our review of that brilliant book in the link, above. It’s utterly essential reading for anyone interested in perfumery, and yet represents a scented slice of his encyclopedic knowledge.

Some years ago, Jo Fairley and I had the great pleasure of spending a day with John at his home, in order to interview him for our #ShareMyStash feature for The Scented Letter Magazine. It was a joyous day of sniffing and reminiscing which we will never forget, and we can think of no better way than for us all to remember John than to share that piece with you, here…

 

 

‘Barbara Cartland had me fragrancing her bookmarks and scenting her letters’

‘It’s not about what’s in the bottle ­– it’s also the stories and the people behind them’

 

[This feature was originally published in issue 28 of The Scented Letter Magazine]

Celebrating his 90th birthday this year, John Bailey has had an unrivalled professional career – spanning an incredible seven decades of scent. As you might expect, along the way, this fragrance expert, scent historian and behind-the-scenes consultant to leading brands around the world has amassed quite a collection – which he shared with Suzy Nightingale…

Photos: Jo Fairley

 

There’s nobody quite like John Bailey. It isn’t just the sky blue eyes, still twinkling mischievously as he enters his 10th decade. It isn’t simply the way he lavishly perfumes the handwritten letters he still likes to send (including, regularly to The Perfume Society). And it isn’t just the length of his career which makes John unique in perfume circles, but the breadth. He began as a ‘lowly laboratory assistant’, as John puts it, apprenticed at the age of 14, and worked his way through all the key companies in the perfume world.

Later, he rose to become Dame Barbra Cartland’s ‘personal perfumer’ and found his own fragrance house, The Perfumers Guild, to create bespoke fragrances for a select clientele. More recently, he held the role of President of the British Society of Perfumers. Quite simply, if the British perfume world had a national treasure, John Bailey is it.

And when John sent us a photo of his ‘summerhouse’ (a very precisely-packed shed at the bottom of the garden, filled with his perfume stash), The Perfume Society’s co-founder Jo Fairley and decided we couldn’t wait any longer to hop on a train and see John on his home turf.

From the moment we stepped into John’s car – fragranced by one of his own beautiful blends, wafting through the air filters – we realised that perfume pervades every area of his life. Over tea and biscuits, served by his wife Sheila in an immaculate conservatory (a congratulatory diamond wedding card from Her Majesty The Queen propped on a side table), John chuckled as he reflected on the timeline of his professional life, ‘I think the way to explain it to you honestly is that my career has evolved rather than been planned.’ And evolve it most certainly did…

 

John Bailey and his beloved wife, Sheila

 

Humbly reflecting that he ‘wasn’t much good at anything at school… my sister was the brainy one,’ it was John’s parents who gently nudged him to become an apprentice to John Richardson & Co, an old-established firm of manufacturing chemists, druggists and distillers in his home town of Leicester. ‘They made everything, pills, potions, lotions, tinctures, veterinary preparations; lozenges…’

It all began with those humble lozenges – which he spent his days hand-making exclusively for the Brompton Hospital London. ‘The mixture was kneaded and prepared with a specific percentage of the essential oils – things like English peppermint oil –  then rolled, cut out and stamped. An apprentice like me would have to re-do that again and again, weighing them exactly. If the weight wasn’t right, it meant the dosage of the essential oil wasn’t correct. Later, I discovered it’s t’s exactly the same technique when you’re weighing out ingredients for perfumes. You have to be accurate.’

Soon it became clear that John’s passion lay in the botanical/aromatics side of the business. As he explains: ‘In those days pharmacies would bulk buy fragrances which they’d pour into their own bottles to sell.’ The chemists shops frequently bought them from the same supplier they sourced lozenges and other medicinals from – and before long, John was learning how to blend perfumes.

The next step of John’s career was ‘very good fortune’, he reflects. He joined a renowned retail chemist, Cecil Jacobs, who’d set up shop beneath the Grand Hotel, Leicester. Jacobs’s subsequent takeover of an ancient apothecary allowed John to be trained in every single aspect of sales, marketing, sourcing ingredients, the merchandising and making of fine fragrances, cosmetics and toiletries. (There’s probably nobody in the entire perfume universe who’s had so rounded a training.) Perhaps his greatest stroke of good fortune was meeting a fellow employee, however – Sheila, with whom he has three daughters.

From there, it was a leap to the old-established Quaker company of Stafford Allen (SAS), growers and distillers of essential oils. ‘I spent months in every single department there before they sent me out as their technical representative. I never stopped learning. It wasn’t like today when to become a perfumer you are required to go to ISIPCA or do specialised training,’ John reflects. ‘This was learning on the job.’

Interestingly, this gives him great respect for the growing number self-taught niche perfumers around today. ‘To my mind there’s no point getting on your high horse and saying, “well these people haven’t been trained at such and such a place” – because that was often the old way, too!’

He clearly remembers the time when the role of ‘evaluator’ was devised – the individuals whose role is as a bridge between client and perfumer, to-ing and fro-ing to ensure the brief is fulfilled to their satisfaction. ‘It was much to the disgust of the perfumers, who thought “who the hell are these people coming in and telling us to tinker with our formulas?”’

From 1979-1981, he then went to work for the fragrance house RC Treatt, setting up a perfumery from scratch. To the distress of John and his team, however, out of the blue the whole venture was axed – and for the first time he found himself out of a job. ‘But it gave me the push to go independent’, John asserts. ‘I thought right, that’s it, I’m never working for anyone again. So I launched my company, The Perfumer’s Guild…’

John’s first bespoke perfume was for the Royal National Rose Society – a quintessential English rose scent, simply called Society, with the first bottle going to Penelope Keith, then to Felicity Kendal and other celebrities who’d had roses named for them.

His next client? None other than Dame Barbara Cartland – she of the pink frocks, the fluffy dogs and the Rolls Royce. (Later, also stepgrandmother to Diana, Princess of Wales, through the marriage of her daughter Rayne to Earl Spencer.) Having read a newspaper article in which the eccentric, bestselling romance authoress bemoaned the decline in standards of perfumery, John wrote her a letter offering to make a scent specially for her. It went down so well that he was retained – like a modern-day Jean-Louis Fargeon to Marie Antoinette, perhaps – to create all the fragrances in her wardrobe. The first perfume he made for Dame Barbara had the suitably Cartland-esque name of Scent of Romance – ‘an Oriental, very decadent and rich. She also had me fragrancing bookmarks and scenting her letters.’ On one occasion, he recalls, he even found himself being announced at a foreign reception at a five-star hotel by a uniformed footman as ‘Mr John Bailey, Ambassador to Dame Barbara Cartland!’

 

 

John was one of the first Western perfumers to use oudh – and shows us a magnificent gold metal chest, containing a pile of this precious Arabian wood. Never resting on his laurels, it turns out he was also involved in reviving the prestigious British perfume house Atkinsons, via his friend Michael Edwards (author of Perfume Legends and the perfume industry ‘annual’, Fragrances of the World). Michael introduced him to the new Italian owners, when they’d bought Atkinsons into their fold. ‘He said to me: “These people have lost a lot of their history and they’re not sure what to do with this treasure” – so I became the officially-appointed researcher, before the relaunched. I’m thrilled that they’re now going to open in Burlington Arcade – literally just around the corner from where this perfume house first started.’

But leaving aside his fascinating personal history, we were also here to see John’s collection. So John led us to the summerhouse in which he stores his jaw-dropping stash, glass cupboards and shelves groaning with everything from Potter & Moore Lavender to Esteé Lauder Dazzling Silver, an original Youth Dew, Army & Navy Eau de Cologne, Triple Extract Wood Violet and more. ‘I’ve no idea how many bottles I’ve got. Several hundred I guess. It’s not always about what’s in the bottle – for me the bottles themselves hold a fascination, the stories and the people behind them.’

Back in the house, Jo and I had to ask if Sheila (who fuelled us with tea, biscuits and mini mince pies throughout the interview) was equally into perfume. Her throaty chuckle and candid answer – ‘Well, to be honest with you I’m not that bothered about it, these days!’ – made us laugh, as did her affectionate assertion that John was ‘obsessed with fragrance’.

At first, John attempted to deny this. But then this gentleman and scent scholar looked around the otherwise immaculate house, with its study crammed with what must be every fragrance book ever written, its huge factices (oversized display bottles) and countless perfume flacons from every era on display. (Never mind that shed itself.)

‘Well, alright,’ he finally smiled, ‘I suppose you could say I’m obsessed…’

 

JOHN’S TOP 10

Or rather, 11. Because after seven decades in the perfume business, it seemed churlish to deny John Bailey an extra ‘pick’…

Atkinson’s 24 Old Bond Street ‘A wonderful relaunch and redesign – they’ve been so clever with the flask.’

 

Chanel ‘From the aesthetic point of view, their simplicity is absolutely brilliant. All they’ve had to do is tweak the bottle over the years – because it’s perfection.’

 

Coty (lots of vintage treasures) ‘We have a friend who was a flight engineer for Concorde and he found this bottle for me at a flea market in Ludlow. Very similar to the vintage Molton Brown, isn’t it?’

 

YSL Opium ‘The bottle designer Pierre Dinand told me many years ago, when I was working with him, that only a few of these original necklaces were produced and so I treasure this.’

 

Guerlain Mitsouko ‘One of the greatest fragrances ever created.’

 

Cartier Panthère ‘An absolutely unique bottle design.’

 

Clarins Eau Dynamiste ‘A very good example of a fragrance perfectly suiting the brand. A tonic scent that’s kind of a twist on Eau Sauvage.’

 

Jean Paul Gaultier Le Mâle ‘Brilliant packaging and bottles – so outrageous putting it in a tin! The fragrance that launched Francis Kurkdjian’s career, of course.’

 

Miss Dior Original ‘Such a cherished name. I worked with the perfumer Jean Carles’ son, Marcel, at one time. I think I still have a copy of the original formula for this, somewhere!’

 

Givenchy Ysatis ‘Stunning bottle – another Pierre Dinand special.’

 

Perfumer’s Guild ‘Aside from “Society”, we used family names for the perfumes – including those of our daughters.’

 

John Bailey – In our scent memories forever.

R.I.P

 

Written by Suzy Nightingale

Hello ’22! A fragrant new year (and new you) with a VERY special offer

New year, new you? Fragrance is the easiest way to revive your spirits or change the vibe (with no counting calories or impossible exercise routines or self-imposed ‘rules’ to follow!) A new scent can give you more confidence and energy or soothe the senses after a difficult time. It can also be your ‘shoulder pads in a bottle’ best friend – or a hug in a bottle, helping you feeling better about yourself every single day.

If you’re new here (hello!) and don’t know all the things we do, or just want to start the new year as you mean to go on; why not consider some of the fragrance-filled options below, and join us in the scented celebrations…

 

Treat yourself to something new (with 22% off*)

Now all the Christmas gifts have been exchanged, we think YOU deserve an extra present for getting through all of last year. We’re welcoming in the new year in the most fragrant way possible, by giving you 22% of ALL our Perfume Society Discovery Boxes (when you spend £40 or more)!

Simply select your favourite Perfume Society Discovery Boxes (*minimum spend £40, valid on Perfume Society Discovery Boxes only, offer ends 7th January 2022) and enter the code Hello22 at checkout.

 

Take the stress out of scent shopping

Fragrance can be bewildering, and finding a new one often overwhelming – that’s exactly why we started The Perfume Society, to take the stress out of shopping for a new scent. How can you find your perfect perfume? What’s the best way to take care of it? How can you make it last longer? Where should fragrance be applied, to get the most out of every spritz? Nobody’s born knowing these things, so we’ve collated answers to dozens of the questions we’re regularly asked in our FAQ section. Simply head there and click on the question, and your answer will appear!

 

Find your next favourite fragrance

How can you find the perfect scent to suit you? It’s a question we’re asked more than any other, and can be somewhat overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin. And that’s at the best of times – let alone trying to navigate buying a new scent from your sofa, without sniffing beforehand!

We have the perfect perfume solution: our genius Fragrance Finder

You’re simply asked to type in the name of a fragrance you like already, and the so-clever algorithm does all the work for you. This is a computer system that was first set up decades ago, when our clever Co-Founder Lorna McKay had an idea how to help customers of Liberty’s perfumery seek out their next scents.

That computer program has been fully updated with key words comparing and describing hundreds of thousands of fragrances – not only the fragrance notes, but how the fragrance will make you feel, the atmosphere the perfumer has created, the character of the scent itself. All you need do is type in the name of a fragrance you already love and you’ll be given an immediate list of six scents to seek out, all at various price points and with characteristics you’re extremely likely to swoon for. Honestly, try it – they’re quite spookily accurate!

Become a V.I.P

For just just £12 per year, you can join our special VIP club and receive the following exclusive benefits for 12 months of fragrant fun…

Special Discounts:  £4 off our professionally-curated Perfume Society Discovery Boxes, you’ll hear about all the launches before anyone else. This year we will be offering even greater discounts and some fabulous 24-hour price drop opportunities exclusive to our VIPs.

Digital Subscription to The Scented Letter: You can read more about this below, but all VIPs get immediate access to our award-winning online magazine, delivered to their in-box– featuring perfumes, perfumers, ingredients and so much more devoted to all things fragrant. Psst ..we’ll send you the latest Scented Letter as soon as you sign up..!

Event Tickets: Early access to events – virtually and in real life…meeting with leading ‘noses’ and key figures from the perfume world.

Exclusive Prizes: just for VIPs.

(Please note: due to shipping restrictions we cannot send our boxes to the Republic of Ireland or internationally.)

 

 

Read The Scented Letter, our multi-award-winning perfume magazine, now FREE for everyone!

Described as a ‘must-read’ by industry insiders and perfume-lovers, we are delighted that our gorgeous and fact-packed digital magazine, The Scented Letter, is now free for everyone to read in digital format online. You can read the most recent Time to Shine issue, here. But don’t worry, if you prefer print, the magazine (and back issues) is also available to order in gorgeously printed form via our Online Shop.

Appearing FOUR times a year this utterly beautiful magazine, featuring at least 60 pages on perfume news, features and much more will take them ever-deeper into the scented world, via our Latest Launches round-up of the new men’s and women’s scents, exclusive interviews with the world’s best perfumers, stunning spreads devoted to the fascinating history and future-forward trends shaping the perfume world.

However you choose to celebrate in scent, we wish you a wonderful (and fabulously fragrant) year ahead for 2022!